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The Babrra massacre (Pashto: د بابړې خونړۍ پېښه‎; or Babara massacre) was a mass shooting on 12 August 1948 in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, in which 611 unarmed Pashtun supporters of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement were killed and about 1,200 injured.[1] It happened on Babrra ground in Charsadda District on the order of the chief minister of the NWFP, Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri (not to be confused with Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Khan, NWFP's first chief minister during the British Raj).[2][3]

Babrra massacre
د بابړې خونړۍ پېښه
Babrra ground is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Babrra ground
Babrra ground
Babrra ground (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
LocationBabrra ground, Hashtnagar region, Charsadda District, North-West Frontier Province (present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Pakistan
Coordinates34°08′35″N 71°43′39″E / 34.14306°N 71.72750°E / 34.14306; 71.72750Coordinates: 34°08′35″N 71°43′39″E / 34.14306°N 71.72750°E / 34.14306; 71.72750
Date12 August 1948; 71 years ago (1948-08-12)
TargetPashtun supporters of the nonviolent Khudai Khidmatgar movement
Attack type
Mass murder, mass shooting, drowning
PerpetratorsAbdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri, police and paramilitary forces of Pakistan



The Khudai Khidmatgar was a nonviolent resistance movement led by Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan), which was initially focused on reform to the status of the Pashtuns in the British Raj and later focused on independence from the British. Until 1930, the Pashtuns were not very involved in politics, but afterwards they became more politically active and supported the movement. In 1937, the movement won the elections for the North-West Frontier Province (present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) in alliance with the Congress Party, as Bacha Khan's brother, Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan (Dr. Khan Sahib), became the provincial chief minister. The movement also won an absolute majority in the 1946 elections.[3] Despite the Bannu Resolution in which the Khudai Khidmatgars demanded that the province should become independent or join Afghanistan, the NWFP joined the Dominion of Pakistan as a result of the 1947 NWFP referendum which had been boycotted by the movement. Before the Babrra massacre, the elected provincial government of Dr. Khan Sahib in the North-West Frontier Province was terminated by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Governor-General of Pakistan. A Muslim League leader, Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri, was appointed as the new chief minister of the NWFP on 23 August 1947. The new provincial government imprisoned the Khudai Khidmatgar movement's leader Bacha Khan, as well as the deposed chief minister Dr. Khan Sahib, and some other notable figures of the region. In July 1948, the British governor of the NWFP Ambrose Flux Dundas promulgated an ordinance, authorizing the provincial government to detain anyone and confiscate their property without giving a reason.[4][5]

On 12 August 1948, activists of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement protested against the arrest of their leaders and the new ordinance enforced by the government. The unarmed protesters marched peacefully from Charsadda to Babrra ground. However, when they reached Babrra ground, Abdul Qayyum Khan ordered the police and militia forces to open fire on protesters. They were killed in their hundreds. Many dead bodies and some of the injured were thrown into the Kabul River by the police and militia. Some of the injured drowned in the river. When the police and militia left, the bodies were recovered from the river by their loved ones and taken to Charsadda Bazar, although some dead bodies could never be recovered. Over 600 Pashtuns were killed in the massacre and about 1,200 were injured.[3][6]


In mid-September 1948, the central government of Pakistan banned the Khudai Khidmatgar movement and many of its supporters were arrested. The provincial government destroyed the centre of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement at Sardaryab, Charsadda District.[2]

In September 1948, Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri, during his speech at the Provincial Assembly, said: “I had imposed Section 144 at Babrra. When the people did not disperse, the shots were fired at them. They were lucky that the police’s ammunition ran out; otherwise, not a single soul would have survived.” Then referring to four members of the opposition in the provincial assembly who were members of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement, he continued: “If they were killed, the government would not have cared.”[6]

In July 1950, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, president of the Awami League and one-time Prime Minister of Pakistan, said at a large gathering in Dhaka, East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh): “The barbarous massacre of the Red Shirts (Khudai Khidmatgars) committed at Charsadda in 1948 surpassed the Jallianwala Bagh massacre committed by the British in 1919.”[6]

Commemorative dayEdit

The massacre is commemorated every year by the Pashtun community on 12 August.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Yousafzai, Abdur Rauf (25 August 2017). "A bloody day at Babarra". The Friday Times. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b M. Rafique Afzal (April 1, 2002). Pakistan: History and Politics, 1947–1971. p. 38 OUP Pakistan. ISBN 0-19-579634-9.
  3. ^ a b c "70 years after Babrra massacre, victims' families demand justice, as deaths of 600 Khudai Khidmatgars remain buried in history - Firstpost". Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  4. ^ نن بابړه کې د وژل شوؤ سوؤنو پښتنو ورځ نمانځل کیږي - VoA
  5. ^ زه بابړه یم - Noor ul Bashar Naveed
  6. ^ a b c August 12, 1948: Remembering Pakistan's forgotten massacre at Babrra. The Nation.
  7. ^ "Unforgettable: Babra massacre remembered across K-P". The Express Tribune. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2018.

Further readingEdit

  • Gandhi, Rajmohan (2004) Ghaffar Khan: Nonviolent Badshah of the Pakhtuns, Penguin Books India, New Delhi
  • Khan, Khan Abdul Ghaffar (1969), My Life and Struggle, Hind Pocket Books, Delhi